Lisa, who lived in the Art Museum neighborhood, sent him a message through the eHarmony site.
Ray responded quickly after he saw that Lisa also strives to help others, and has an adventurous streak to boot.
Lisa had spent two years in Guyana, providing social work and counseling services at a hospital, and tutoring boys at an orphanage through Mercy Volunteer Corps, where she now works as a program coordinator.
Through e-mails and phone calls, Ray and Lisa learned of still more they had in common: a strong Catholic faith and tight family ties.
Despite the e-mails and phone calls, Ray was a little nervous before their first date that November, at Darling's Diner in Northern Liberties. "Doing Internet dating is always dicey on the first encounter," he said. But he needn't have worried. Their diner date turned into two hours of walking and talking together.
"From that first time, he had me laughing. And that made me want to spend more time around him," Lisa said.
Ray so liked spending time with Lisa that in February, he ignored 18 inches of snow and a warning to stay off the roads to watch movies and make brownies at her place.
How does forever sound?
In spring 2011, Ray, who is now 42, hatched an elaborate plan he hoped would lead to spending every day with Lisa, now 38. It brought together two of her biggest loves: Guyana and the reality TV show The Amazing Race.
Lisa was headed back to Guyana that May, and Ray got friends here and there to help him stage "The Amazing Race: Guyana Edition," just for Lisa.
The taxi driver at the airport handed her the first envelope, letting her know the race was on. The one from the hotel clerk told her to buy a pineapple and take it to the Sisters of Mercy Convent for lunch. And that is where Lisa's strong will postponed the race for a day. She did not realize Ray and his crew had made lunch arrangements with the sisters. She only knew of her own arrangements for dinner with them, and refused to impose.
The next day, another envelope showed up under Lisa's door at the convent, and the race was back on. Lisa followed instructions to the hospital where she once worked, a vocational school also run by the sisters, and to the orphanage, where she had to score three runs in cricket before she got instructions for her final destination on Day 3: She and Ray were flying to Kaieteur Falls, a 741-foot, single-drop waterfall.
"I knew God was with us, because unless the plane is full, they cancel the trip," Ray said. Despite rain, the plane flew to its destination, and the couple and other passengers hiked 15 minutes through the jungle to the waterfall.
There Ray gave Lisa her final envelope. It contained 14 letters she was to arrange to spell out the last clue.
Lisa had become suspicious - and hopeful. She counted out the letters in "Will you marry me?" and realizing there were indeed 14, began to quickly lay them out.
Ray couldn't wait a second longer. Before she finished, he knelt in a rain puddle and pulled out a ring.
It was so them
The couple were married on New Year's Eve. "I really liked the symbolism of ringing in the New Year by starting our new life together," Lisa said. Said Ray: "If you're going to get married in the cold of winter, it may as well be on a festive day!"
They were married at St. Mary's Roman Catholic in Cherry Hill, the church Ray grew up in. Ray walked down the aisle with his parents, Carmen and Candelario, who waited with him at the altar until Lisa walked down with her parents, Vito and Maureen.
Father Michael Duffy, who Lisa met when she did volunteer work with a Franciscan program in which he is affiliated, said Mass and officiated the ceremony.
Between the wedding and the reception, the couple and their wedding party headed to the Camden waterfront. They watched the 6 p.m. fireworks show and had pictures taken standing in Camden and overlooking Philadelphia, the two cities they love.
The couple strove to keep things simple, as they do every day. They made their own invitations and instead of favors, made a donation in the name of their late dog, Ziggy, to the Camden County Animal Welfare association. Both Ziggy and their other dog, Lola, lived on the streets of Camden until they adopted Ray 13 years ago.
The 110 guests got hats and noisemakers at the reception, and at midnight, everyone toasted the new year together.
Ray, who is a member of the board of Camden City Public Schools, says he'll never forget watching Lisa walking down the aisle. "Seeing her there was breathtaking.
After most of the guests had headed home, the DJ played the couple's first dance song, Andrea Boccelli's "Can't Help Falling In Love," for a second time. "So much of the day becomes a blur because there was so much happening. But just for this moment, we had the place more to ourselves," Lisa said.
A bargain: Creative Ray designed the couple's invitations, and the couple assembled them. Not only did other photographers want twice or more what Barnyard Photography charged, but Barnyard sent along a second shooter.
The splurge: Ray surprised Lisa with a limo. "We were on lockdown on all the other expenses," he said.
Seven nights cruising in the Caribbean, with two extra nights in Puerto Rico.
Behind the Scenes
The Rev. Michael Duffy; staff at St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church and Marian House, both in Cherry Hill
Frank Falcone Catering, Cherry Hill
Barnyard Photography, Newark, Del.
Flowers by Mendez and Jackel, Camden
Sabrina Ann, Ardmore
Made by the couple
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